Ryan Blaney captured the Busch Pole Award for Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 16 opener at Darlington Raceway.

Blaney will start his No. 12 Team Penske Ford from the first spot for the first time this season, in search of his first Darlington victory. Blaney, a playoff driver, is coming off back-to-back wins to close out the regular season.

Daniel Hemric claimed the pole for Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM) in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, while Sheldon Creed, playoff driver of the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet, earned the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series In It To Win It 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM).

As NASCAR adapted to COVID-19 protocols last season, practice and qualifying were eliminated at a majority of national-series events to limit at-track time, exposure and to cut race weekend costs. To determine starting lineups, competition officials used grouped draws, added inversions for weekend doubleheaders, and eventually adopted a performance-metrics formula. That metrics format remains in place this season, drawing on performance from both individual races and season-long results.

NASCAR’s metrics formula for 2021 weighs:

  • 25 percent: Driver’s finishing position from the previous race
  • 25 percent: Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race
  • 35 percent: Team owner points ranking
  • 15 percent: Fastest lap from the previous race

See the full lineup for Sunday night’s Cup Series race below.


Start pos.
Driver Car # Team
1 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
2 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
4 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
6 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
7 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
8 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
9 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
10 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
11 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
12 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
13 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
14 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
15 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
16 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
17 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
18 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
19 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
20 Justin Haley 77 Spire Motorsports
21 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
22 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
23 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
24 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
25 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
26 Daniel Suarez 99 TrackHouse Racing
27 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
28 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing
29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
30 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
31 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
32 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
33 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
34 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
35 Joey Gase 15 Rick Ware Racing
36 James Davison 53 Rick Ware Racing
37 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing

Practice and qualifying are tentatively scheduled for eight Cup Series races this year. Just one race remains with Busch Pole Qualifying on the schedule — the season-ending championship race Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway.

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